Introducing Philosophy through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House

Introducing Philosophy through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House

Introducing Philosophy through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House

Introducing Philosophy through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House

Synopsis

What can South Park tell us about Socrates and the nature of evil? How does The Office help us to understand Sartre and existentialist ethics? Can Battlestar Galactica shed light on the existence of God?
  • Introducing Philosophy Through Pop Culture uses popular culture to illustrate important philosophical concepts and the work of the major philosophers
  • With examples from film, television, and music including South Park, The Matrix , X-Men, Batman, Harry Potter, Metallica and Lost, even the most abstract and complex philosophical ideas become easier to grasp
  • Features key essays from across the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, as well as helpful editorial material and a glossary of philosophical terms
  • From metaphysics to epistemology; from ethics to the meaning of life, this unique introduction makes philosophy as engaging as popular culture itself
  • Supplementary website available with teaching guides, sample materials and links to further resources at www.pop-philosophy.org

Excerpt

Philosophy has a public relations problem. Just the sound of the word “philosophy” scares a lot of people, conjuring images of long-dead Greeks and crusty old professors. But the stereotypes of philosophy are just that – stereotypes. They are mistaken exaggerations and overgeneralizations. Western Philosophy may have begun in Ancient Greece, but it is alive and well in contemporary America and around the globe. Some philosophy professors may be egg-headed, ivory tower intellectuals, but most are not. In fact, many philosophy professors like the same things you like: television, movies, music, and video games. We see connections between these elements of pop culture and philosophy. So this book, written by philosophy professors, takes you from pop culture to philosophy; we wade into the shallow water before swimming out deep. Each chapter focuses on a piece of pop culture, like Harry Potter or The Office, and teaches you about a particular issue in philosophy or the views of a particular philosopher. We think you’ll agree that, to paraphrase a classic Disney truism, a spoonful of pop culture helps the philosophy go down.

The idea of using examples to facilitate learning is not new to philosophy. Famously, Plato (429–347 BCE) used the story of the ring of Gyges, and Descartes (1596–1650) imagined a deceitful demon. However, most examples in philosophy are rather dry – finding people with bland names like Jones and Brown in difficult to describe circumstances, such as those in which we are potentially justified in believing that “Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Barcelona.” Thankfully, Hollywood writers do a much better job of creating engaging, imaginative scenarios than philosophers do. So why not use their creations to add spice to philosophy? As you’ll discover in this book, The Matrix provides a vivid way of picturing Descartes’ concerns about deception and knowledge, and South Park hilariously dramatizes the problem of evil by asking why good things (like inheriting a million dollars) happen to bad people (like Cartman). Indeed, many other insightful philosophical illustrations from pop culture await your reading.

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